For the past five years or so, I have been informally mentoring people. I’m happy to report that some of the earliest are ridiculously successful and I still keep in touch. I’m also a mentee to a few people I look up to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Understand Your Motivation Before You Become A Mentor or Mentee
You’re entering an informal agreement and you should know what’s motivating you and clearly articulate that to the other person. In my case, I realized I had not been seeking out mentors so becoming one was an intentional act.
Embrace That It’s A Two Way Learning Street
Regardless if you decide to seek or provide mentorship, you are accepting the role of both teacher and student. As a mentee you will be teaching your mentor on a daily basis. Understand this dynamic works both ways.
Be A Mentor Means Being An Active Listener
If you want to become a valuable mentor, you either are a serious active listener or want to get better at it. Don’t become a mentor if you don’t value listening. It’s the number one requirement.
Being A Mentee Means Being You
If you’re not comfortable being yourself, you may not be ready for mentorship. Being a mentee means bringing your true self to the informal arrangement. There’s no room for anything less.
The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Transcends Professional Development
Being professional is a core value of my being. I strive to act ethically. I’m also a follower of radical candor and encourage mentees to explore a degree of personal life as part of professional development.
Trust Is The Literal Foundation Of Mentor/Mentee relationships
In every engagement where I have been both mentee as well as mentor, I seek to build trust. It’s the bedrock of the Mentor/Mentee value exchange. And it also flows both ways.
Don’t Become A Mentor or Mentee If You Can’t Make The Time
Time is our most precious asset and it’s limited. We have demanding projects, family duties, self care, etc. all competing for time. If you can’t prioritize being either, you aren’t ready for it.
The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Is A Human Investment
In the age of crypto and a red hot housing market—becoming a mentee or mentor is an investment in another human being. If you value the ROI that comes with human investment, you’ll benefit from being either.